Glee creator Ryan Murphy is leading a boycott of Newsweek after one of its columnists said openly gay actors playing straight characters alienate audiences.
Calm down, Ladyface. The columnist has a point. It is hard to believe Sean Hayes as a womanizer in Broadway's Promises, Promises without seeing his swishy, gayed up character in Will & Grace. And it is hard to believe GLEE's Jonathan Groff (the openly gay Broadway star) as Rachel's love interest without thinking, "Why'd they cast the gay guy as her boyfriend?"
Newsweek's columnist--who's openly gay, by the way-- didn't suggest that gay actors stay in the closet (as Rupert Everett does). In fact, he writes, "For gay actors, why should sexual orientation limit a gay actor's choice of roles?" His point, and it's a good one, is that it often does.
GLEE's creator went Sue Sylvester on the writer, calling the column "Shocking... hurtful... blatantly homophobic" and demanding that Newsweek apologize to all its gay readers.
Well, I'm a gay Newsweek reader and I'd like an apology from Ryan Murphy. Because instead of engaging in a meaningful discussion about why it's harder to convince audiences to accept gay playing straight than the other way around (think Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger in Brokeback Mountain), Murphy acted like somebody disqualified his cheerios from regionals.
Why is Newsweek homophobic for pointing out the homophobia within some movie audiences? Why doesn't Murphy acknowledge the larger question of how much an audience can know about actors before it colors the perception of the roles they play? After all, ANY information about an actor tends to affect your perception of their characters.
What's the difference between seeing Sean Hayes in a straight role and thinking "HE'S GAY" and watching Tom Cruise in any role and thinking "HE'S AN IDIOT?"
There are two factors that influence audience acceptance of an actor's character: How much do we know about his personal life and how good is he as an actor? TMI (Too Much Information) is deadly for actors, gay or straight. If an actor spreads TMI like fertilizer he's doomed. There's a reason the Meryl Streeps or Heath Ledgers of the world are so beloved--we don't know the first thing about them. There is nothing to divert us from the roles they're playing.
Still, TMI is not a death sentence. Actors make up for it with great acting. Tom Cruise's role in Tropic Thunder is a case in point. Widely reviled for his hateful comments toward Brooke Shields, he shut the hell up and introduced us to an unforgettable comic character. Never once in his portrayal did the word "Idiot" come to my mind---And I hate the man.
The point Newsweek didn't make but should have, is that the reason we can't accept gay actors in straight roles is that they're simply not good enough at their craft. When America thinks "gay" it's really thinking "effeminate." If a gay actor associated with effeminacy can't make an audience believe in his straight role, is it homophobia or just bad acting?